Lamenting the commercialisation of the medical profession, the Bombay High Court on Friday observed that hospitals are nowadays run “like shops”. “Doctors have forgotten their duty. Most hospitals are being run like shops. Everything is commercialised. Money has become more important,” the court said.
The division bench of Justices VM Kanade and PD Kode was hearing a petition filed by Sanjay Prajapati, a city resident, alleging that the privately-owned SevenHills hospital in suburban Andheri was not giving discharge to his brother Chinku for non-payment of hospital dues.
“This is a sorry state of affairs. Even in Government hospitals such conditions are prevailing,” remarked the bench. On Thursday, while hearing the same petition, the court had noted that “it was inhuman to detain patients” for non-payment of dues.
However, SevenHills management denied the allegation and stated that Prajapati would be discharged on Friday. “Things have been sorted out and he would be sent home during the day,” its lawyer said.
The hospital claimed that it wanted to discharge him last month after he was operated upon successfully, but he needed nursing and post-operative care and hence was not sent home. After he moved the court, the matter was sorted out with the family and it was ready to send him home.
The hospital’s lawyer also said that it had no intention to stop him from leaving. The judges recorded the statement and asked the state government to inform on June 17 whether there are any guidelines or rules which give a hospital the right to detain patients for non-payment of dues. The judges noted that this was a serious issue and the High Court would not give up the matter though the present case was sorted out.
The court directed the petitioner to make Medical Council of India and Maharashtra Medical Council respondents. The next hearing would be on June 17. Prajapati has requested the court to direct the police to act against the doctors and the hospital staff for ‘wrongfully confining’ his brother to a bed because his family disputed the bills and did not pay up.
His brother had a fall in the house and suffered injuries to the head, so he was hospitalised and operated upon. The family later disputed the bill presented by the hospital, alleging overcharging. One of the doctors who has charged for a visit was actually on leave at the relevant time, the petition alleges, adding that the complaint to the hospital authorities elicited no response. The petition further says that the family wanted to move Chinku to another hospital.